Consultation with EU Member States
Regulation (EC) No 1935/2004 provides the European Commission with implementing powers to adopt or amend specific measures on FCMs at EU level under a regulatory procedure known as 'Comitology'. In order to introduce such measures, the Commission must consult a committee where every EU Member State is represented. In the context of FCMs, the Commission consults with the toxicological safety section of the Standing Committee on Plants, Animals, Food and Feed (SC-PAFF). This is currently done under the Regulatory Procedure with Scrutiny (RPS or PRAC), which in the future will be aligned with the new procedures set out by the Lisbon Treaty. Further information can be found on the Commission's web pages concerning the Comitology procedure.
Prior to the consultation in the SC-PAFF, the Commission prepares draft measures together with national experts on FCMs from EU Member States, in a Working Group meeting. Their primary role is to give assistance to the Commission and to provide views on draft measures that are being developed. Discussions not only concern new legislation or amendments to existing legislations, but also matters concerning implementation and harmonised application of legislation, and matters arising during enforcement. The working group meets approximately five times per year, but consultations can also be done in written form.
The Commission also consults with the Member States via the European Reference Laboratory for Food Contact Materials (EURL-FCM). This provides scientific and technical assistance to the EU and the Member States. It is supported by a network of National Reference Laboratories (NRLs) for whom it organises inter-laboratory comparison (ILC) exercises as well as conducting training courses for the benefit of experts from developing countries.
Before any provisions liable to affect public health are adopted, such as prior to the authorisation of a substance, the Commission is required to consult with the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA), and must act on the basis of its scientific opinions.
Consultation with stakeholders
The Commission also consults on technical matters with European professional associations representing FCM manufacturers and/or their supply chain (i.e. manufacturers of starting and intermediate materials, converters of FCMs, importers and traders of FCMs, users and retailers, and/or their representatives). The members of these associations are national associations and business operators active in this sector. While such stakeholders do not input into the actual risk management of materials and substances, they contribute practical expertise on the manufacturing, use, composition, and verification of compliance of FCMs in relation to amendments to existing legislation, for example on plastic FCMs, but also on new legislation as well as harmonised application of legislation. A major objective of such consultations is to ensure that measures required to protect consumer health are implemented in a way that minimises the burden to business operators.
In developing new policy on FCMs, the European Commission also aims to consult with a wide range of other stakeholders, including European consumer associations, other NGO's active at a European level, as well as individual citizens. In targeted meetings, specific stakeholder groups, including national stakeholders, may be invited to contribute with their expertise to the development of specific legislation.
The Commission is currently considering ways to open up the consultation process on FCMs even further. This may in the future include a stakeholder forum to improve dialogue and exchange of ideas as well as facilitate communication on the progress being made on various FCM initiatives.
As part of the Commission's commitment to better regulation, there are now more opportunities for all stakeholders including citizens and businesses to contribute to the process of developing policy on FCMs, throughout the policy life-cycle including its preparation and subsequent implementation and evaluation. More information on the better regulation initiative can be found in the Better Regulation Guidelines or on the different components of law making and how you can get involved.
Globally, the European Commission also notifies the World Trade Organisation (WTO) on new measures concerning FCMs, either as sanitary and phytosanitary (SPS) measures and/or under the agreement on technical barriers to trade (TBT).
The Commission Services are presently actively consulting on the subjects below. Please click on the headings to learn more.
If you are interested in becoming one of our regular stakeholders on FCMs, you can contact us by filling out the FCM Stakeholder Registration Form (available soon), stating in it your interest in FCMs in order for us to be able to ensure dialogue and consultations are aimed at the appropriate stakeholders. Prior to filling out the form, you must be registered in the EU transparency register, a system operated jointly by the European Commission and European Parliament. In this way, the EU decision-making process is as transparent and open as possible to ensure balanced representation and to see clearly what interests are being pursued and by whom.
Previous documents made available from discussions with Member States as well as stakeholders are available via the document library web page.
As part of our communication with stakeholders we sometimes participate in conferences organised by third parties. We participate only if we see a clear benefit in engaging with the audience of the conference, and the conference should not be targeted only at a national audience. To request our possible participation, please contact us to request our contribution at the earliest 4 months ahead of the event.
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